Work-at-Home Scams

OnGuardOnline.gov has yet to find anyone who has become rich stuffing envelopes or assembling crafts at home for a promoter. If you’re considering a work-at-home opportunity, ask questions and do some research before committing any money.

The Bait:

Ads often promise a steady income for home-based work, typically in medical claims processing, online searching, international shipping, rebate processing, envelope-stuffing, or assembling crafts and other items. The ads use variations on these themes:

  • Be part of one of America’s fastest growing industries.
  • Be your own boss.
  • Earn thousands of dollars every month from your own home.

The Catch:

The ads don’t say you may have to spend your own money to fulfill the terms of the assignment – placing newspaper ads, making copies of documents, or buying supplies, software, or equipment to do the job. They probably don’t say you won’t be paid for all the hours you put in, either. It’s hard to find a promoter of home-based businesses who will pay you for all the time and money you spend, and who accepts your work as up to “standards of quality.”

What You Can Do:

Legitimate home-based promoters should tell you – in writing – exactly what’s involved in the program they’re selling. Before you commit any money to a home-based business, ask:

  • What tasks will you have to do?
  • Will you be paid a salary or will you work on commission?
  • Who will pay you?
  • When will you get your first paycheck; how much will it be?
  • How much will you have to pay for the program? Include supplies, equipment, and membership fees.
  • What will you get for the fees you have to pay?

It is important to verify any information you get from the promoter with current workers. Try to visit them in person. Sometimes, the “references” the promoter uses are shills – people who are paid to lie about their experience working for the promoter.

You also can type the company or promoter’s name into a search engine with a word like review, complaint, or scam.

Finally, it’s a good idea to check out the promoter or company with your local consumer protection agency to see if other people have reported on their experiences.

Report Online Scams

If you believe you’ve responded to an online scam, file a complaint with: